The unimaginable zero summer

One of the odd things about being on an academic calendar is the way it suddenly stops and starts.  And I do mean suddenly.  Every semester manically speeds up near the end and then--just when it's moving at breakneck speed-- everything stops.  There's no crash or screech, no deceleration.  Just a complete and immediate stop.  Silence. You go back into the office to get something and no one is there.

I never deal well with these transitions.  No matter how many projects I line up to prepare for next semester, they always get shoved aside.  I end up reading a half-dozen books, eating too much, watching old movies and being generally unproductive.  If it were summer I would jump in the car and find a trout stream to waste time.  At least that way I would have the illusion of productivity.  But everything lies just on the verge of freezing as the world slides between late fall and full-blown winter.  All of the fish are slumbering in the depths.  Me too.

Odd time of year.  Eliot really captured the "in-betweeness" and contrast of such moments in Little Gidding:

Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart's heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul's sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time's covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable
Zero summer?


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